Libyan judges rule against acting prime minister

Ruling states vote that brought Ahmed Meteeg to power was unconstitutional

Acting Libyan prime minister Ahmed Meteeg: his predecessor effectively been placed back in power.Photograph: Sabri Elmhedwi/EPA

Acting Libyan prime minister Ahmed Meteeg: his predecessor effectively been placed back in power.Photograph: Sabri Elmhedwi/EPA

 

Libya’s Supreme Court yesterday ruled against the acting prime minister, Ahmed Meteeg, in effect placing his predecessor back in power in a case that has become a battle between the two main political camps.

The court decided that a May 4th vote by the Islamist-dominated parliament, the General National Congress, propelling Mr Meteeg to power, was unconstitutional. Court officials said details of the ruling would be released at a later date. The court’s decisions are not subject to appeal.

Mr Meteeg said he would abide by the court’s decision. “I respect the judiciary and I will be the first who complies with the judiciary’s rulings,” he said in a televised appearance.

Parliamentary elections

The ruling establishes Abdullah Thinni as the prime minister ahead of June 25th elections for a new parliament.

Though the GNC could theoretically call for a new vote and attempt to reinstate Mr Meteeg or any other prime minister, there appeared to be little appetite for such a fight.

Mr Thinni in April submitted his resignation after a brief stint in office pending the appointment of a new premier.

His reinstatement marks a victory for Karama, or dignity, the movement launched by retired general Khalifa Haftar and his allies against Islamist militias and their political allies in response to a spate of assassinations targeting security and judiciary officials.

The verdict also firmed up the battered judiciary as a force to be reckoned with. The judiciary was an instrument of oppression under deposed ruler Muammar Gadafy and judges and judiciary officials have been subject to bombings and killings since his regime’s overthrow in 2011.

“It’s a historical day in the Libyan judicial system,” said Mohamed Saleh Drah, a lawyer and human rights activist. “The Libyan judges have decided very clearly. They entered a very sensitive, hot potato issue. It was very courageous.”

Libya’s security troubles have been further complicated by the dispute between Mr Thinni and Mr Meteeg. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2014)